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A Mass. man mailed masks with German shepherds on them to President Biden. Then came the letter from the White House.

“We love dogs and couldn’t resist celebrating their return to the White House by gifting you our masks."

German shepherd masks fashion designer David Josef sent to President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden. David Josef

A Waltham man changed from fashion designer to mask maker during the pandemic, and decided to send a couple custom-made ones to President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden in March.

The two masks had German shepherds printed on them, and David Josef and his husband, Daniel Forrester, sent them out shortly after Major, one of the Bidens’ dogs, was sent away for training after he injured a Secret Service agent.

Then, a letter from the White House turned up in the couple’s mail.

“And it’s a very expressive, beautiful thank you,” Josef told Boston.com on Tuesday. “It was heartfelt.”

The thank-you letter from President Joe Biden to fashion designer David Josef. – David Josef

It was back in late March of last year that Josef said that after a “really lovely” 45-year career in fashion design the shutdowns from COVID-19 brought his business to a screeching halt. Brides that Josef was designing gowns for were postponing their special day, and he decided he had to stay home.

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But that momentary professional pause wasn’t meant to last — he soon became restless.

“I stayed home for like three days I think it was, and I was climbing the walls,” Josef said.

Then he and Forrester saw one of the press conferences when Gov. Charlie Baker made an appeal for personal protective equipment and discussed the PPE shortages early on in the pandemic.

“My husband and I thought, ‘Well this is what we can do, this is how we can help,’” Josef said.

Josef found a DIY mask pattern on the Beth Israel Lahey Health website and on March 20, 2020, made about 25 masks. He decided to post them on Facebook.

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“And the world exploded. Literally exploded,” he said.

On just that first day, about 2,500 requests for masks came in throughout the country, including from various hospitals and doctors’ offices. Knowing that he couldn’t make masks in the thousands daily, Josef worked with a friend to have 10,000 masks made at a factory in Fall River. They raised money on a GoFundMe to help cover the costs. When complete, the masks were donated. Josef has continued making masks throughout the pandemic, from sparkly ones to those honoring front-line workers.

This spring, Josef saw on the news that Major, the younger of the Bidens’ two German shepherds, injured a Secret Service agent. Major and Champ, the older of the two dogs who recently passed away, were sent to Delaware, and Major was to undergo training to help him adjust to White House life.

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Josef sewed up two masks with German shepherds printed on them, and he and Forrester sent them off to the White House on March 25. Josef said he was hoping the presidential couple would get a laugh out of the gift.

“We love dogs and couldn’t resist celebrating their return to the White House by gifting you our masks,” Josef and Forrester wrote in their letter.

Then, Biden’s thank-you note turned up with the couple’s mail on Monday. He said he tore the envelope open, then, realizing he maybe should’ve been more careful, his husband taped it back together.

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“I greatly appreciate the warm welcome you and so many of our fellow Americans extended to me and my family,” the letter said.

The letter also mentions unity and bringing the country together.

“So it was very sweet, very very lovely,” Josef said.

Adam Schultz/The White House
Biden with his dogs, Champ and Major, in the Rose Garden at the White House in January. – Photo by Adam Schultz/White House
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